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Two-year old turkey

Filed under: — gavin @ 22 November 2011

The blogosphere is abuzz with the appearance of a second tranche of the emails stolen from CRU just before thanksgiving in 2009. Our original commentary is still available of course (CRU Hack, CRU Hack: Context, etc.), and very little appears to be new in this batch. Indeed, even the out-of-context quotes aren’t that exciting, and are even less so in-context.

A couple of differences in this go around are worth noting: the hacker was much more careful to cover their tracks in the zip file they produced – all the file dates are artificially set to Jan 1 2011 for instance, and they didn’t bother to hack into the RealClimate server this time either. Hopefully they have left some trails that the police can trace a little more successfully than they’ve been able to thus far from the previous release.

But the timing of this release is strange. Presumably it is related to the upcoming Durban talks, but it really doesn’t look like there is anything worth derailing there at all. Indeed, this might even increase interest! A second release would have been far more effective a few weeks after the first – before the inquiries and while people still had genuine questions. Now, it just seems a little forced, and perhaps a symptom of the hacker’s frustration that nothing much has come of it all and that the media and conversation has moved on.

If anyone has any questions about anything they see that seems interesting, let us know in the comments and we’ll see if we can provide some context. We anticipate normal service will be resumed shortly.

666 Responses to “Two-year old turkey”

  1. 351
    Tony Rogers says:


    I’m saying that the mitigation that is actual going on is very stupid.

    It’s all very well to say we should do it intelligently but it isn’t happening. Unintended consequences are everywhere! Putting a price on carbon gives a positive incentive for forests to be cut down and palm oil planted. Providing a massive subsidy for ethanol means 40% of US corn production gets burned in cars, probably/possibly not reducing carbon emissions at all and forcing up the price of food to those than can least afford it. How is that intelligent?

    I am all for wasting less energy. That seems to have few negative consequences (I insulate my house, drive a diesel car and drive few miles). However, a “sustainable energy infrastructure” might just destroy the environment faster than any climate change may do. So far, the benefits of such policies are nil and the costs are mounting.

  2. 352
    Tony Rogers says:

    Just to be clear. By “costs” I am mostly NOT talking about money. I am talking about the consequences to people and the environment, although some of those stem from economic factors such as higher food prices.

  3. 353
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Shorter DW @ 329: Physics is “a state of mind.”

    dhogaza @ 335, Chombe @ 339, Yes, sometimes people invent “theological” excuses for their wrongheadedness but this is a property of persons not theology. The latter can work in either direction. google “creation care” and “evolution Sunday.”

    James @ 342, your comment pertains to dhogaza’s style but not to the reality orientedness or not of Spencer, Mann amd dhogaza. Spencer’s problems with reality are covered in part here:

    Inline @ 344: “Thus your framing is guaranteed to give the wrong decision in the face of important consequences of any environmental problem.”

    Congratulations on capturing the essence of denialism.

  4. 354
    Mark Zimmerman says:

    This is one e-mail that is bouncing around for which I have not seen the context

    “I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run,” Thorne adds

    [Response: It’s a little ambiguous, but the email is discussing the zero order draft of the 2007 IPCC report (i.e. the very first scoping document prior to any review or edits). Thorne actually left a comment up-thread indicating that his comments were taken into account and that he was happy with the final product – which is the point. – gavin]

  5. 355
    John West says:

    Tony Rogers says:
    “I merely pointed out that the the costs of the mitigation efforts that are being implemented are available to us and seem very high to me.”

    It’s not just that, but, that they’re ineffective as well. I mean really, cap and trade would only put money into carbon traders’ pockets and a carbon tax into the governments’ wasteful hands and would be the most regressive tax ever. I’d rather see a MACT (Maximum Acheivable Control Technology) Standard developed and implemented. A MACT could have the least impact to energy producers while reducing the emissions the most with the added benefit of initiating a manufacturing industry. The CAA (Clean Air Act) has proven the effectivness of such a strategy. Couple that with efficiency improvements (which could also be done through a MACT) and researching alternatives to burning substances that we may want to make plastic bottles out of well into the future.

  6. 356
    ThinkingScientist says:

    In Gavin’s reply to #67:

    “[Response: We said back in 2009 that asking people to delete emails was ill-advised, and that remains the case (as the Muir-Russell report went into in great detail). But there is no legal requirement to keep all emails – govt. agencies and universities general have policies on document retention but they don’t mandate universal archiving of emails. Many of them actually suggest regular deletion of non-essential records (e.g. NASA). – gavin]”

    Your reply is incomplete and misses the point that is clearly shown in several emails and is stated by both Briffa and Jones. They were recommending deletion of emails and witholding of data in order to avoid or subvert a legitimate FOI request. Such actions are a criminal offence in FOI law in the UK. The Information Commissioner pointed out during Climategate 1 that there was strong prima facie evidence that an offense had been committed but Jones cannot be charged to test this because there is a limitation of 6 months post the illegal action in which criminal proceedings can be brought – an absurd law if ever there was one, it should be 6 months post the discovery of the offence.

    Furthurmore the current emails clearly show the FOI representative at CRU discussing with Jones who the FOI request is from, even copying the entire request in confidence. FOI requests can only be considered on the merit of the request. It is in offence to take into consideration who is making the request or for what reason and use that as the basis to decide which requests have “merit”. The FOI process is deliberatly intended to be a blind process so as Jones et al DO NOT have a say in whether a request has merit.

    Not being able to bring criminal proceedings due to poorly drafted legislation is entirely different to being found not guilty of something after having to face criminal proceedings.

  7. 357
    Mark Zimmerman says:

    I found the Thorne comment already addressed by mediamatters. thanks for all you do here

  8. 358
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    @ 348 Gavin: “If using something will cause costs to others, it should be included in the price if you want society to allocate resources effectively – how hard is that to fathom? – gavin]”

    For some it is almost impossibly hard. Consider some words – effectively, empathy. [psychopath, sociopath are not nice words to use but empathy can be used in their place as follows]
    Empathy is now becoming a measurable personality variable. From what I recall it is as yet only measured in quintiles – upper fifth down to lower fifth. But of course some people will be the lowest of the low. The lowest 1 percent in the USA number over 3 million persons. Think about this in relation to incentives and ways and means of moving into positions of power, influence and great wealth. Might low empathy types be overrepresented among the powerful?

    In any case Gavin’s “effectively” just does not compute for some people. For others, decades of verbal bullying by talk radio and other “conservative” sources has drummed the ability to think of others out of their socio-political thoughts yet they retain the potential to be better.

  9. 359
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tony Rogers,
    Horsepuckey! You seem to be contending that humans are too stupid to mitigate intelligently. Personally, I think the majority are just too stupid to see the value in intelligent mitigation.

    Sustainability includes maintaining and even extending the lungs of the planet (e.g. rainforests). Your objection reminds me of the old vaudeville routine where the patient raises his arm in an awkward way and says,”Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” The doctor replies, “Don’t do that.” What we are seeing now is policy driven by politics rather than science. The science is giving very clear direction:
    1)Reduce consumption as much as possible consistent with maintaining a decent quality of life AND a declining fertility rate in developing nations
    2)Find alternatives to fossil fuels for industrial, quotidien and transportation uses that are truly sustainable (including causing limited environmental damage.
    3)More research and measurement (esp. satellite coverage) to see how deep we are in the soup
    4)Monitor like hell
    5)Leave the fricking coal, tar sands and oil shale in the ground where it is sequestering carbon.
    6) Emphasize sustainable energy resources over one-time usable resources.
    7)Educate people about the science so they can make intelligent choices wrt their daily lives and their leaders.
    8) Ensure all products reflect their full environmental cost–including environmental, security, etc.

    What, specifically do you object to there?

  10. 360

    #344 Tony Rogers

    Reality can disturb a belief which is one of the primary reasons that belief is often favored over reality.

    Like it or not google:

    field.pdf “Climate Science and the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations”

    We need to weigh the cost benefit ratios, or ignore them to our detriment.

  11. 361

    #348 Tony Rogers

    To reiterate and rephrase what Gavin already said, excluding the cost of doing nothing in a cost benefit analysis invalidates your claim that ‘it seems very high to you’.

    The numbers now clearly indicate that the costs of increased emissions are increasing, not decreasing. Continued CO2 emission rise will invariably increase costs. There fore the cost of doing nothing can qualitatively be assessed to outweigh the benefits of doing nothing.

    There is also a great video from ABC news with an interview of Richard Somerville answering questions.

    #350 Tony Rogers

    However, a “sustainable energy infrastructure” might just destroy the environment faster than any climate change may do. So far, the benefits of such policies are nil and the costs are mounting.

    This is truly mind-boggling logic. So a non sustainable energy infrastructure is the answer?

    #351 Tony Rogers

    But it all translates to money, so you can say your NOT talking about money but in fact you ARE talking about money and every other related cost… loss of living standards, loss of productivity; and of course increased costs in food and water and related socioeconomic costs.

  12. 362
    Radge Havers says:

    Chris @ 341

    “I think that this is the problem and is not aided by the comments here on RC.”

    Or maybe the problem is that too many people these days think they can get by evaluating issues simply by weighing what “he said” against what “she said”. This is insufficient on just about any topic and especially so in science. It is very lazy and only opens the door for all kinds of emotional misdirection. In science it’s all about the science. You have to dig around in it a little and get your hands dirty with the actual logic, math, method, and culture. This wouldn’t be a big deal in an educated society that wasn’t dumbed down for the peddling of tabloid crap.

    The closest comparison I can think of off hand, outside of science, would be meticulous hygiene in legal chain of custody. But you never really hear that discussed in tabloid blather either. Really. People need to just grow up. Science is hard. You have to deal with it. There are helps. However, you can lead a horse to water… Not helpful? You can lead a horse to water… but not helpful? You can lead a horse to water but…

  13. 363
    Salamano says:

    I bet none of you do ;)… but I’m seeing some parallels between what these emails show to have transpired to what very likely had similarly occurred in its time at the Council of Carthage in 397AD.

    Back then, various experts in the field got together, looked at all the literature and what was published, and came out with their final rendering which became “THE” understanding of the Canon of Scripture.

    I know many scientists who have needled about what would have happened if an alternative conclusion were to have come out of that Council at Carthage, and who have theorized that the very existence of disagreement in and of itself is enough to dismiss the whole thing. Fortuately for the Council of Carthage, very little (if anything) remains to describe any sort of controversy or uncertainty with regard to what went on in those meetings.

    It seems like the IPCC has participated similarly as a council, canonizing the current undestanding of the science as it relates to policy. These emails give an eye into the sausage-making that goes on prior to the pronouncements.

    At some point, issues of great importance is going to need a ‘council’ of some sort to put matters to rest.

    It certainly seems beneficial to the Council at Carthage that little remains of intra-council disagreement. Would the essence of scientific pursuit be better off if none of these emails ever made the light of day? Or is it stronger because if it?

  14. 364
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Unreality alert: comments keep referring to the alleged cost of something called “mitigation” as if there were no alternative energy sources available. “Mitigation” means

    Stop burning carbon. Leave it in the ground. Use non carbon energy.

    Day after day there are advances in lower alternative energy costs and improved technology. There has been no financial reason not to deploy alternative energy for some time. There may appear to be because all the costs of burning carbon are not included in the acknowledged price.

  15. 365
    David Wright says:

    “Hm, this analogy has a few problems … but insofar as an analogy goes, there is no question about the semi whatsoever. The debate is how big, how far away, and whether we’re talking head on collision of merely knocking off the mirrors, not whether it is there. As an aside, I once saw a car lose both mirrors at once — on against the car on its left, and the other on the stone bridge wall on the right. Those narrow European bridges are not for the faint of heart. ;) –eric]”

    Good morning!
    Any analogy will have deficiencies. Your comment (and many of the more emotionally charged arguments seen here) still assumes that “there is a semi bearing down”, and that “we are treading on thin ice” when it is entirely possible that additional CO2 will be beneficial. I don’t expect to convince anyone here otherwise, there are obviously deep seeded fears and beliefs in place.

    The semi bearing down is a belief, same as my belief that life on earth is getting much better since the last ice age, and based upon the current trend, it will likely continue to do so for a long while to come.

  16. 366
    Ray Ladbury says:

    OK. I realize that you are a layman, but does that mean you have to be an utterly uninformed layman? There are plenty of excellent resources out there you could read to educate yourself on the history and basics of the issue. You can find them at the “Start Here” link upper left tab on this website. I particularly recomment Spencer Weart’s History of global warming. When you read this and other work by scientists, you will find that this the concept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas is hardly new or revolutionary. It’s been known since the 1950s.

    Likewise, it’s been known that our burning fossil fuel would raise Earth’s temperature since 1896–115 years!

    Can you maybe see why scientists aren’t keen on work that purports to overturn over a century of progress in science that underlies a very successful theory of Earth’s climate?

    Look, the way science works is as follows. A bunch of really smart, opinionated and often only marginally socialized people (mostly guys) look at various aspects of a phenomenon they are studying. They try to interpret what they see and eventually publish it. Then they get together and argue about it until they come to a better understanding, and go back and look into it more deeply. Repeat. And the thing is that it works. It works despite the fact that the people involved are people–with rivalries, foibles and frailties as well as intelligence and insight. It is not necessary that the people involved be saints, or like each other, or all be brilliant or even that they all be honest. You keep asking Nature questions, and she keeps giving you consistent answers. You make a mistake, she corrects you–sometimes none too gently.

    Given this, do you really think that after a century and a half of research, the scientists are so utterly clueless that would (or even could) resort to lies and subterfuge to give an illusion of progress? If you do, then you really don’t understand science.

  17. 367
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The Council of Nicea succeeded in part because the Roman emperor had dissident bishops killed on the way to the council. This not only decreased the amount of dissent, it had a salutory effect on cooperation.

    If you think the IPCC has anything like the power of a Roman emperor, you are sadly deluded. The IPCC does not define consensus. Instead, it tries to reflect the consensus to be found in the technical literature. Surveys indicate (e.g. Bray and von Storch 2008) that most climate scientists are satisfied with the job they do.

    Maybe you ought to consult reality before forming your theories.

  18. 368
    ZT says:

    Any context here would be very useful:

    Mike Mann:
    “Meanwhile, I suspect you’ve both seen the latest attack against his Yamal work by McIntyre.
    Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and
    what sort of response—if any—is necessary and appropriate. So far, we’ve simply deleted
    all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.

    any insights and/or advice you can provide would be extremely helpful. If you’re
    uncomfortable doing this by email, I can be reached most of the day at my cell phone”

    Why is that Mike and the RealClimate team are deleting questions on this subject, (isn’t the consensus opinion well understood on Yamal?), why might it be that Phil and Tim would be uncomfortable discussing this in email. Is that an insinuation – by Mike Mann?

    [Response: There is no ‘consensus’ position on Yamal. Most of the scientific community could not possibly care less about Yamal, if they have even heard of it. And no one is ‘deleting questions’ in general. The point here, obviously, is that Mike was not interested in allowing RC to be a place for McIntyre to repeat his incorrect characterization of the impact of these tree ring records on the climate reconstruction. As for why someone might be uncomfortable using email to communicate about things for which they have been attacked unfairly and dishonestly, has it occurred to you that they might have been concerned about people taking their email out of context and placing spin on it, to try to cast them in a bad light? Nah, no one would ever do that, right?–eric]

  19. 369
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Wright: “…it is entirely possible that additional CO2 will be beneficial.”

    It’s also entirely possible that I could bet my life savings on 00 on a roullette wheel and win, but I doubt it is a good retirement strategy. The probability that CO2 sensitivity is less than 2 degrees per doubling is less than 5%. If it’s higher, we are likely in deep kimchee. You are proposing to bet the future of human civilization on a 20:1 longshot. Feel lucky?

  20. 370
    climatebeagle says:

    From Tom Wigley (4712):
    “….. Note that individual series are weighted according to their
    quality in forming a composite hemispheric-scale time series.”

    The word ‘quality’ here has been chosen carefully — as something that
    is deliberately a bit ambiguous.

    Can you put this in context, I’m struggling with the concept of a scientific paper being “deliberately a bit ambiguous”.

  21. 371
    David Wright says:

    Brian Dodge@340:

    “Then why are you comfortable with uncontrolled testing of the effects of CO2 on our ONLY planet, currently carrying seven billion passengers?”

    Simple. Because there are many known benefits from the use of fossil fuel. It’s what keeps the plane flying. No time to dump the fuel tanks when we are in mid flight!

    There is little evidence that fossil fuel will cause a catastrophe that would equate to not using it.

    We are explorers. We did not invent fossil fuel, we discovered it in nature, and like most things nature provides, it has been good for humanity. The rise out of the little ice age has also been quite beneficial to life on earth. I have no reason to believe that a couple more degrees will be harmful in any way. Nature has truly been good to us in many ways, and if the trend continues she will continue to do so. Or she may not, but that is not under our control.

    [Response: The problem here is that your view of the situation is so binary. It is either a catastrophe or negligible. The only solution is reducing carbon emissions to zero immediately. But neither of these things are true. There is a whole range of impacts that range for the minor to the very serious, and there is no-one who doesn’t recognise that reducing emissions is a long-term proposition. Please stop arguing against strawmen. – gavin]

  22. 372
    David Wright says:

    “There has been no financial reason not to deploy alternative energy for some time. There may appear to be because all the costs of burning carbon are not included in the acknowledged price.”

    There you go with the “hidden costs”. It reminds me of the “hidden heat”. You are assuming that CO2 is harmful and will cost us something more in the future, when it may very well be beneficial in the long run. For me to accept your argument I have to accept that there is this invisible hidden cost. You are arguing your point with the point being argued! It’s becoming repetitive, like a merry go round.

    Money quantifies efficiency. Most alternatives, being more expensive (without subsudies), are currently less efficient by that measure.

  23. 373

    #361 Salamano

    It’s a red herring argument. debates about belief are not the same as discussions about evidence.

  24. 374
    Ray Ladbury says:

    DW: “We did not invent fossil fuel, we discovered it in nature, and like most things nature provides, it has been good for humanity. ”

    Wow! Just Wow! That’s the crux of your argument? That’s it? Yeah, Smallpox, Ebola, arsenic in drinking water…

    Dude, please tell me you aren’t that stupid.

  25. 375
    Ray Ladbury says:

    climatebeagle, On the use of constructive ambiguity in science. When you are trying to summarize a highly technical procedure, or better, several related methods, the details of which would likely lose the reader and would not significantly add to understanding of the research, it is sometimes advantageous to avoid excess detail in favor of readability. Anyone who has ever written up research has made such choices. I take it from your question that you haven’t published before. True?

  26. 376
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    On the cost benefit analysis of environmental regulation

    “Making the case for value of environmental rules”

  27. 377

    367 David Wright

    Pot meet Kettle.

    David, you are actually arguing in circles with yourself and others. That’s quite a juggling feat.

    What hidden costs? The costs are infrastructure related.

    – How much money will in cost to refit a single port as sea level rises?
    – How much will the inflation cost the monetary economy?
    -How much will in cost to move entire town and city populations more areas become less inhabitable, or,
    – How much will it cost to adapt to to the changes?

    These are not hidden costs, they are occurring and increasingly expected costs. The cost of added CO2 is not an assumption it is an expectation. And this expectation is qualifiable. It is not mere opinion.

    Or are you assuming that moving cities and ports will not have associated costs?

  28. 378
    Hank Roberts says:

    Sorry, Ray, he is.
    Shorter David Wright: “Ignoramus, ignorabimus.”
    Refuted many places, e.g.

  29. 379
    David Wright says:

    “You are proposing to bet the future of human civilization on a 20:1 longshot”
    Not sure where you got those odds. Humans have survived several ice ages, and now have the capability to insulate themsleves against harsh conditions, thanks a great deal to cheap energy.

    What you view as gambling, I view as an investment in an infrastructure which has paid great dividends in terms of human sustainablility and quality of life. Most folks are not willing to give up those dividends.

    They will be willing to save money on energy, and as the technology progresses, will probably end up using less fossil fuel per person in the long run.

    So your fear may be alleviated, just not as quickly as you may wish.

  30. 380
    Susan Anderson says:

    Asking people who study and understand physics and climate science to do an exercise debunking Michael Mann is typical of the phony jiujitsu the fake skeptic community uses to exploit the integrity of science and create the appearance that there is something wrong with it.

    I hope the hardworking people here will not take the bait.

    You say uncertainty, they use uncertainty. Whatever occurs, they are carefully studying its appearance rather than its substance to find things that can be exploited.

    I deeply appreciate the tolerance this site extends to all, including myself (when Dr. Ladbury used one of his wtf’s on me, I knew I had arrived, but also took the criticism to heart as his trenchant comments are useful and accurate), but it is not useful to continue down the road when the obstinate ignoring of useful information persists.

  31. 381
    Fred Magyar says:

    David Wright @ 370,

    Money quantifies efficiency. Most alternatives, being more expensive (without subsudies), are currently less efficient by that measure.

    Oh, fer crimminie’s sake! Money is a fiction, what matters is energy returned on energy invested. Currently fossil fuels have diminishing returns in terms of energy invested even if you don’t consider environmental damage as part of the equation! If you use whole cost accounting, alternative sources of energy such as wind` and solar start making sense. See this link::

    Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time as UN Talks Stall

    Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks.

    Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass attracted $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the most recent data. Accelerating installations of solar and wind power led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal.

    “The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable,” United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner said in an interview. “You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis.”

  32. 382
    ZT says:

    Many thanks for the response.

    Regarding your comment: ‘Most of the scientific community could not possibly care less about Yamal, if they have even heard of it.’ Didn’t RealClimate produced its own article on Yamal from around this time?

    Could you possibly provide a little more context to explain why most scientists were uninterested, RealClimate published its own article on this subject, and Mann was deleting comments on this topic, all around the same time?

    [Response: Sure. The Yamal chronology is just one of several thousand extant, so even for those who work on paleoclimate, or those who work specifically with tree ring analyses, it’s not important. We try not to waste time on things that don’t matter. Not difficult to grasp.–Jim]

    Regarding the suggestion from Mann about using the telephone for communication for improved comfort – why is that Mann is using email for his communication on this topic in a misconstruable (presumably) email, but wants to provide the option for the Yamal instructions to be returned in a telephone call. Is Mann indicating that Jones and Osborn may have something to hide?

    [Response: You’re kidding right? Or did you use to work for Joseph McCarthy? (Look it up.)–eric]

  33. 383
    climatebeagle says:

    In my field readability and ambiguity are opposites, I can fully understand removing detail to make something clearer or more readable. I can’t imagine being deliberately ambiguous to make something more readable. Certainly the quote didn’t seem to be trying to make things more readable. I’d never heard of the term “Constructive ambiguity” before, Wikipedia has it as “deliberate use of ambiguous language on a sensitive issue in order to advance some political purpose.” Maybe you can point me to a definition suitable for use in science papers.

  34. 384
    Bryson Brown says:

    #369 David Wright

    Where do you get ‘invisible’? Just because your eyes are closed and you’re not interested in listening to what the sighted have to say…

  35. 385

    #369 David Wright

    No time to dump the fuel tanks when we are in mid flight

    I actually agree with you on this one.

    We can’t just dump the tanks as that would be too economically disruptive.

    However a transitional approach is a ‘very’ good idea at this point in time. So dumping the tanks is not that great an approach, but dropping fuel will certainly help bring us in for a soft landing.

    You are mistaken on your next point though, in it’s ambiguity and lack of context:

    There is little evidence that fossil fuel will cause a catastrophe that would equate to not using it.

    What do you mean by catastrophe? Such ambiguity lends your statement to hyperbole rather than qualitative or quantitative analysis.

    There is in fact a great deal of quantitative evidence that shows there will be economically degradative impacts as this progresses. That is the point I am making.

    Read the field.pdf I mentioned. It is loaded with context that is based on ‘current measurements’ not models. There is a significant economic impact that will increase as warming progresses.

    Better yet. Come to the AGU meeting in San Francisco and question him yourself. He is speaking on one of my panels:

    Climate Confluence Issues (Energy, Environment, Economics, Security)
    – Date: 09-Dec-2011; Session Time: 10:20 AM – 12:20 PM
    – Location: Room 104 (Moscone South)


    – Christopher B. Field: Ecosystem and Food Security in a Changing Climate
    – U.S. Navy Task Force Climate Change
    – Guy Brasseur: Projected Climate Changes and Regional Security
    – John P. Reisman: Overview of Climate Confluence Security Issues

  36. 386
    DrTskoul says:

    Oups.. Ray just popped a vain on his forehead. Well every village has a fool, Ray. We cannot really get angry with what nature has bestowed (or not) on them. Chillax :)

    Btw DW..if business as usual (per ice age survival) has worked so well why did we creat EPA and the environmental movement?

  37. 387
    Jon says:

    I sympathise with you Chris (@341, et al.). I’ve been getting heavy flack in response to some simple inquiries and criticisms I made recently (for the first time ever there, as here) at Climate Audit. I’ve refrained from commenting on sites like this, because an admission of confusion by someone who knows they lack applicable knowledge or expertise commonly gets met with condescension, or howls of contempt and derision — from hard nuts on all sides, but mostly from zealous non-cognoscenti desperate to show the marks of true faith (although I note you’ve had some rather generous responses here).

    I’m an absurdly qualified academic at a well known university: which gives me no purchase whatsoever on climate science. Sure, I can read the stuff: but I can’t actually verify it, or contextualise it. Most people’s relationship with science (when they bother to remember they’re having one) is thoroughly unscientific — which make us easily led, but also easily disappointed. This doesn’t make us cretins: but scientists had better forgive us when our faith gets fragile and we get antsy on them. Pretty much everybody would be better off if we admitted that there are relatively few onlookers who can do much better than take authority on trust. It’s weirdly like being a Greek chorus that doesn’t know any Greek. Perhaps the best we can do is to try to remain up to date with /where/ the known uncertainties lie: which beats deferring to crazy-eyed graduate students on these pages, and also gets us beyond the Climate Audit tendency of memorising lists of canonical citations, like scriptural lessons, to be swapped like pass-words.

    Personally I’ve found
    this enormously useful (although there’s a weird typo in the penultimate sentence).

  38. 388

    #377 David Wright

    Context is key. Fossil fuels have brought us great benefit, but have the true costs of various benefits been weighed properly though time? That is the question.

    Shakespearian conundrums aside, there is tremendous opportunity for economic benefit from developing new technologies that increase our energy security.

    Also we can not ignore our economic security. As I have said on many occasions, if the economy fails, we won’t be able to fix as much as we would like. And I don’t think anyone really enjoys economic chaos and degradation at those levels.

    The key point you seem to be missing is the cost to benefit ration through time. Don’t worry, though, many people miss this point. That’s because it is a complex array of potential scenarios and is not fully quantified for that very reason.

    But uncertainty is not your friend. In this case it is your enemy. There will clearly be economically degradative impacts and the lack of certainty about how costly is preventing action that can assure a more economically viable future.

    The costs are predictably high, but like climate sensitivity it is hard to say just how degradative it will be overall. The key point to understanding this is simply that, in my opinion, any economic degradation is bad.

    Contrary to what you seem to be currently thinking, there is actually no reasonable evidence that warming will be economically beneficial, while there is a tremendous amount of evidence that it will be degradative.

    So you are arguing the opposite, based on speculation while the evidence contradicts your speculation.

  39. 389
    Radge Havers says:

    “If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him.”    — Cardinal Richelieu

    The guiding light of denialists.

    [Response: Thanks for the bit of history. I had thought RPJr had said that; glad to be corrected. ;) –eric]

  40. 390

    #379 Eric

    My uncle George actually did work for Senator Joseph McCarthy.

    As I like to point out once in a while, irony is pretty ironic.

  41. 391
    John McManus says:

    People who have studied physics and climate science have been trying to debunk Mann for years. It is all part of the process.

    In school, his tests and exams were examined closely. In grad school, his theses were defended in an adversarial arena. His many published papers were all peer reviewed by physicists and climate scientists ( check the hacked emails for proof of the ferocity of that system).

    Lately panels of pysicists and climate scientists have sat in judgement . They say Mann’s work is honest, accurate and important.

  42. 392
    SecularAnimist says:

    Usually, vapid piffle like David Wright’s comments does not get posted here. But there’s a lot of it on this thread. Are the moderators allowing comments that would normally be deleted as unworthy even of the Bore Hole, to illustrate the extraordinarily poor quality of the comments being provoked by the “two year old turkey”?

  43. 393

    As it seems germane to the discussion I thought we all might want to digest the implications of context in this little video:

  44. 394
    Craig Nazor says:

    David Wright:

    First, modern human society (with modern infrastructure and a population of 7 billion people) has survived exactly zero ice ages. And NO human population has survived a world that was 5ºF to 7ºF higher in average temperature. It will be an interesting experiment, to say the least.

    What are you talking about when you say “cheap energy?” Man has always used the cheapest energy at hand. The Roman Empire actually had an energy crisis when they had cut down all the easy-to-reach trees on the Italian Peninsula, and had to spend more and more effort importing timber. Coal takes more energy to mine than wood, and oil takes even more energy than that. And when you factor in the increasing amount of damage that extracting, refining, and burning of each of these energy sources does to the environment, our energy sources are actually getting more expensive, and we are going through them at an increasingly rapid rate. This path is unsustainable.

    You can deny that all you want, but it is still true.

    To continue on the path we are on without change is eventual suicide (the environmental bill in particular, which is so easy to put off paying, is rapidly become due). Every bit of good science (and common sense) that I have ever seen supports that.

  45. 395
    David Wright says:

    374.On the cost benefit analysis of environmental regulation

    “Making the case for value of environmental rules”

    The clean air act was a great thing. You’ll get no argument from me. We drastically improved our quality of life. We have done so well (in the US) that we are near the point of diminishing returns. Unless of course you believe that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant. Therein lies the rift.

  46. 396
    Jon says:

    Chris @ 341, I sympathise with you. It’s all very well for folk to start getting condescending or rude, or treating it as if it’s /your/ fault (or society’s), if you express reasonable confusion and caution — or disagreement — as a result of some mixed messages. I’ve just made the mistake of commenting at Climate Audit, and it was, um, a ‘learning experience’. The idiom and dynamics are different over here, but in some ways the message isn’t, and the demands certainly aren’t.

    I’m an academic with an absurd number of degrees a well-known university, and I was /raised/ by academic climatologists and taken on field trips when Michael Mann was still in diapers and Steve McKintyre was doing whatever in hell he was doing. None of this gives me any authority to speak on climate science. Sure, I can go and get wised up, read a few papers: but I can’t verify what I read, and half the time I actually can’t understand it, anymore than I might ‘understand’ quantum physics. And you know what? I’ve heard that scientists change their minds about stuff from time to time. I believe I’m not supposed to believe in the Higgs Boson particle any more. But that’s alright, because I only found out about it at 9 am yesterday morning. Sorry. Guess I’d not done all the reading I should have done.

    Fact of the matter is, anyone with a science degree should be the first to admit that even an expensive private high-school education doesn’t get you that far. And last I heard from my colleagues, quite a few undergrads don’t really ‘get’ science. Scientific thinking actually depends in large part on /being/ a scientist in one shape or form, unless your brain happens to be shaped that way naturally. Most of the rest of us take the medicine — whether it’s the stuff made by big business, or the distilled water — on sufferance or trust. We’re easily led if we want to be, but unless we’ve shut our eyes completely (which wouldn’t be very scientific would it?), we’re also easily disappointed.

    Most of the people who ‘believe’ in AGW don’t know what it is that they believe in, any more than those who take what is for them a single simple step across the line into total disinterest or outright denial. It’s like we’re supposed to be the Greek chorus that doesn’t know any Greek, and has never visited the place. The graceless crazy-eyed science grads (or wannabe science grads) out there, all pale and twitchy fingered over their key boards, really do need to remember that we ignorant punters actually need to be treated nicely, because most of us know no more about atmospheric physics than a lot of you do. Some of us may even ‘know’ more than one might think, but enough to see our ignorance. We are not (necessarily) cretins. Howls of condescension and fundamentally meaningless demands that we educate ourselves (i.e. by doing enough reading that we’ll be rendered acquiescent) won’t help anyone’s cause: that’s what the other lot are asking for too, matey-boots.

    So perhaps the best we rank and file can do is try and stay abreast of where the uncertainties lie: not that many people like putting that front and centre in clear terms. Personally I’ve found this piece rather helpful (despite the editorial error in the last paragraph, and out of date as it may now be).

  47. 397
    David Wright says:

    “First, modern human society (with modern infrastructure and a population of 7 billion people) has survived exactly zero ice ages. And NO human population has survived a world that was 5ºF to 7ºF higher in average temperature. It will be an interesting experiment, to say the least.”

    We survived with much less insulation than we have today. That is truly amazing in and of itself, but OT.

    Do the proprietors of this blog project temperatures of 5 to 7 degrees higher than today? I think you’re stretching the projections. It’s more like around 2 degrees last I checked, but maybe the moderators can chime in. Humans probably would survive 5 to 7 degrees though, considering all the other calamaties we have survived.

    [Response: The moderators will indeed “chime in” to tell you that some of them don’t have time or patience for this increasingly off topic, tit for tat, game playing. It’s not a chat room. You’re welcome to make cogent, argued, on-topic points if you so choose.–Jim]

  48. 398

    #390 Craig Nazor

    Good context. Thank you for pointing that out.

    It’s not about whether hunter/gatherers survived ice ages and paleo climate change events, it’s about how well New York would fare if it were buried under a mile thick ice sheet.

    And it’s not about the fact that it has been warmer in the past, it’s about how well our infrastructure and agricultural systems will fare in a significantly warmer world.

  49. 399
    Observer says:

    Re, #386 by John McManus, which concluded with:
    Lately panels of pysicists and climate scientists have sat in judgement . They say Mann’s work is honest, accurate and important.

    Perhaps, but we also have number 3373 of the recently released emails that contains the following, authored by Professor Ray Bradley, listed as a contributor to RealClimate at,

    Bradly wrote:

    Mike only likes these because they seem to match his idea of what went on in the last millennium, whereas he would savage them if they did not. Also–& I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year “reconstruction”.


    This is not Anthony Watts dumping on Mann’s work. Rather, it is a well-regarded climate scientist. Personally, I think that if the climate science community made more public statements along these lines, albeit phrased more diplomatically, the credibility of the community and the acceptance of those views where there truly is a consensus would increase, not decrease.


  50. 400
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jon wrote: “Most of the people who ‘believe’ in AGW don’t know what it is that they believe in”

    What is your evidence for that extraordinary claim?